Since viruses are on everyone’s mind, let’s talk about viruses that affect orchids. It is extremely important that they are kept in check. Viruses can greatly reduce vigor and flowering in orchids.
Orchids may, or may not, show visual symptoms such as color break in flowers (irregular dark pigmentation), crippling of flowers and or leaves, chlorosis (yellow streaks in the leaves), necrosis (black streaks or dead tissue in the leaves), sunken streaks and pitting of foliage.
Virus infected orchids often lack vigor, but the tricky part is that you may never know. The only way is through testing with the University of Hawaii or with an Agdia Test Kit. Either way, tests run around five bucks each. The unfortunate thing is that they only test for the two most prevalent viruses, Cymbidium Mosaic (CMV) and Odontoglossum Ring spot (ORSV) Viruses. Through years of personal experience with working with the UH Virology Department, we have found that orchids that are virus free of CMV and ORSV, could still be infected with other viruses. These viruses can jump from one plant species to another. So in other words testing will give you a false sense of security.
The most reasonable way to handle diseases such a viruses, is to assume that each orchid or plant could harbor some sort of an infection. It could be viral, fungal, or even bacterial. Sanitation is the key! The most common way to transmit viruses and other diseases is through your unsterilized pruner. The best way to sterilize your pruner is with heat, a self‐igniting propane torch will do the job just fine. Other options are barbeque lighters (weaker flame and will take longer to heat and dry the orchid sap), or even cigarette lighters will do. Just remember to sterilize before cutting into the next plant. If the flames bother you, then dipping them in a soap water and 10 percent bleach solution would also work.
Don’t forget to also sterilize all of your utensils, such as props, stakes, pots, trays, hangers, and clips. I normally soak them in a 10 percent bleach solution overnight, making sure to scrub off all of the white roots with a scouring pad. ORSV is very resistant in the environment and could infect an orchid just by reusing an old unsterilized pot. If you haven’t been sterilizing, it’s never too late to start.
There is no cure for orchid viruses, so prevention is the key. If kept in good health like humans and viruses, your orchid could mask its symptoms, but when put under stress (after repotting, or in times of over watering or drought), symptoms can reappear or the plant could just die. So let’s all take the necessary steps to keep our orchids healthy.
I have even extended my sterilization to all plants that I cut my pruners, especially ones that are juicy and have a lot of sap. They are the easiest ones to become infected by viruses.
The Windward Orchid Society Orchid Spring Show - March 20-22, 2020 is Canceled. Also, All WOS Events Scheduled For April 2020 Are Canceled
On April 24, 2019, UH Manoa Hamilton Library held a presentation entitled, “Journey Through the Natural Sciences in Hamilton Library’s Rare Book Collection”.
Attendees were able to look through several rare books featuring beautifully illustrated plates of orchids, birds and other animals.
One of the presenters, Sheron Harwood, WOS President, captivated the audience with her knowledge of orchid history, diversity and culture.
The books from this rare collection dated from as early as 1587!
Of particular interest was a large, bound volume published from 1837-1843, The Orchidaceae of Mexico & Guatamala.
You can see from the picture of the Cattleya Skinneri with Sheron’s hand in it, just how immense this book was.
Other pictures are a Cycnoches Egertonianum, unusual in that it has male and female flowers and a Stanhopea Martiana, unique because the flower spikes grow down from the bottom.
The detail and accuracy of these hand-drawn prints were amazing, right down to bug bites on the stems.
~ Dawn Bonak
I bet if I do everything just right, I can get that daggum orchid flower to come out of that plant. I know it’s in there because I’d seen it before. It was a sweet little thing that made me smile to look at it.
OK, let’s see here. Now, Scot says what you need to pay attention to is:
#1- Don’t leave your plant soaking in water all day. It’s got to dry quick or the roots will rot.
There are tricks for that. You put the plant in a pot with stuff like Styrofoam (not kiddin’) for the bottom and around the sides. Then, add some bark or gravel to take up the space in the middle of the pot and get that plant in there all nice and snug, so it won’t wobble around. Get it? This stuff’s not gonna hold water very long at all.
And, the most important thing is to use a little-bitty pot. That way, there’s no way for water to accumulate. If that plant is still wobbly, put a stake next to a stem and twist-tie them together. If the plant wants to fall over, put that little pot into an empty bigger pot.
#2-Blah, blah, blah…
That’s a lot of words.
Don’t you wish someone can just show you how to do this?
Well, you are in luck.
Go watch Scot, or another orchid sage, in person at a Windward Orchid Society Saturday Workshop at Dot’s house. It’s better than a YouTube video because you can ask questions and even bring your own plant and fix it up under expert orchid tutelage.
And bonus, bring a yummy dish to share and enjoy a potluck lunch and talking story after the workshop. This is more fun than reading about orchid care…really.
Watch for more details about these workshops in your Windward Orchid Society newsletter.
Of course you need to sign up and be a member to get our newsletters.
Here’s what happens at Dot’s Workshop:
The Windward Orchid Society meets at 7:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the King Intermediate School Cafeteria, located at 46-155 Kamehameha Hwy. in Kaneohe.
Become a member
Join the Windward Orchid Society to help promote, educate and show an appreciation of one of the most beautiful and exotic of all plants. The Orchid.